January 2013.


Wu: I’m afraid of a Mayor Rush Hill


2013-01-23 13:31:53

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

In Newport Beach, the role of mayor is rotated annually among the City Councilmember and not directly elected like in Irvine or Santa Ana. Chances are, unless you’ve angered the rest of the councilmembers or you only last one term, you’ll get your turn.

For 2013, the seat was given to Mayor Keith Curry, his second spin as mayor, while Councilmember Rush Hill was appointed mayor pro tem.

Curry being mayor is good. His first time around, he performed very fairly. But Hill getting appointed mayor pro tem … well, that concerns me a little bit.

I had visions of a former mayor who showed up at a reception wearing a crown and holding a scepter, as I revisited Hill’s very interesting two years on the Newport Beach City Council.

Before Hill was even elected, as a very celebrated member of the Newport Beach establishment and former Newport Beach Citizen of the Year, he had accepted the mantle of “the eighth councilmember,” so the ego was already pretty big.

Then came the two California Fair Political Practices Commission complaints and probes into Hill’s activities as a councilman, one of which resulted in a warning.

Two FPPC investigations in two years as a councilmember. That’s probably a bit unprecedented.

Then there was his crazy, flippant attitude when he told a disgruntled council chambers audience that the council “… did not want to take the kind of (expletive) you’re giving out.” The best part of that was that he said later it was not a slip of the tongue – in other words, he indeed meant to curse at his constituents.

And he’s not even mayor yet.

It’s been quite a while since the last egomaniac took the center seat on the dais, but many can still remember that it was one very long year: the anti-rehab community exploded and lawsuits ensued, while conflicts among councilmembers overflowed into the local press in competing commentaries.

It took two consecutive years of the very mild-mannered, very patient and very understanding Mayor Ed Selich to calm the community down.

The last thing Newport Beach needs is another egomaniac as mayor, sparking FPPC complaints while cursing at his own constituents.

Give Rush Hill a bit more power and we might not like what his true character is. As “just” a councilman, he’s already been divisive and vulgar.

– Jack Wu is a resident of Newport Beach.

© Copyright 2013 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | User Agreement | Site Map


Will Dock Tax funds be used to pay down debt?

Over the past year our city council has raised taxes on Harbor businesses and residents.  Mooring owners were hit with a 300% hike, commercial marina operators took a 366% hit, and last month residential dock owners were crushed with an average 700% Dock Tax levy (some will pay as much as $5000 per year).

The December 11, 2012 special city council meeting to levy the Dock Tax was hastily set at the old city hall building on Newport Blvd.  Upon adjourning, the politicians scurried over to the new Taj Mahal in Newport Center to christen the building at Councilman Rosansky’s last meeting.

When residents stop paying attention the bureaucrats and politicians lose their way and create long-term financial obligations like the Taj Mahal.  We are now stuck with $228.6 million in debt payments for a building that 95% of Newport’s residents will never set foot in.

We are told the wave of Harbor tax increases will generate $4.5 million per year.  In 2012 the payments for the Taj Mahal began — $8 million per year for 30 years.  The Taj will cost every Newport resident $2,700 – and the land was free.


“Once the city gets in your pocket they never go away”

Before I update you on our latest thinking, I want to thank everyone for their kind words of support during my recent health scare.  I owe a debt of gratitude to the folks that kept our Stop the Dock Tax movement going in my absence.  Special recognition goes out to all of you that attended the December 11th council meeting where the largest tax increase in the history of harbor users was levied upon us by the city council.  Thank you to Pete Pallette for handling the press calls for the Boat Parade Boycott, and Kristine Thagard, our venerable counsel, for working tirelessly on our many legal options, and numerous others that keep our movement going.

I have been asked why I wasn’t at the city council meetings where the Dock Tax was imposed.  Shortly before Thanksgiving I was stricken with Guillain-Barre syndrome. (ghee-YA-buh-RAY)  It’s is a disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks the nerves. Weakness and tingling in your extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body.  After forty days in the hospital I am pleased to report that my paralysis is gone, I am a able to walk with the assistance of a walker, and I get stronger every day.  There were a couple very difficult weeks as pneumonia set it in over Thanksgiving weekend.  We are blessed to have Hoag Hospital in our city – my doctors were able to control the pneumonia and stabilize my condition.

Enough of my situation.  I am ready to go, feisty as ever, and tired of our city government picking our pocket as they move into a new city hall that will cost $228.6 million in mortgage payments over the next 30 years.


Today our lawyer, Steve Baric, filed a letter with the city council outlining numerous violations of the Brown Act.  The city formed a Harbor Fees sub-committee that continued to meet until early December of this year after the authorizing resolution terminated its existence on March 31, 2010.  They met in secret, without public notice, and posted no public agendas.  Sounds a little like Castro’s Cuba or the City of Bell.

dock tax - baric brown act cure ltr to cnb-page-001.jpg

dock tax - baric brown act cure ltr to cnb-page-002.jpg


In a spate of verbal gymnastics, the city attorney has tried to explain away the violations by saying goofy things like; “… it wasn’t a sub-committee it was an ad hoc working group.”  Or, my personal favorite “… the committee formed and met ‘organically’.”  Wow, that’s a doozy.

When then-Mayor Nancy Gardner replaced Ed Selich on the “organically formed non-committee” with herself the city attorney called it an informal “ad hoc” committee – as though changing the name avoids public disclosure.

Well, whether the sub-committee was an “ad hoc working group” that formed “organically” its work product and meetings must be public, according to California’s Open Meeting laws codified in the Brown Act.  Every decision based upon recommendations of the “organic ad hoc working group” is tainted and must be reconsidered by the full council.  The Dock Tax and all the new taxes on Harbor businesses would need to be PUBLICY reheard, and re-voted because they were adopted originally in violation of the Brown Act.

Mr. Baric’s letter gives the city a chance to cure their Brown Act violations before we take further action.   We anticipate they will hunker down, circle the wagons, and reject our request to do things properly.  They will continue the mushroom strategy of keeping us in the dark – until the judge tells them differently.